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Spaghetti Aglio e Olio: Easiest Pasta Dish Ever

Posted by on 28 January 2011

This recipe is a boon for working mothers. It’s quick and easy to make, it tastes soooo good, and it’s healthy, too!

As the name of the dish suggests, the main ingredients are aglio (garlic) and olio (oil), specifically, olive oil.

Don’t be afraid about the dish being too ‘oily’ because olive oil is actually very good for your health. Olive oil is rich in good fats that are good for your cholesterol levels, helps reduce your chances of developing heart disease and may even help prevent cancer.  Olive oil also contains a lot of antioxidants and vitamin E.

IMPORTANT: For cooking, use ‘normal’ olive oil; don’t use extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is sensitive to heat and loses its efficacy when cooked. You can add in extra virgin oil just before eating, if you wish.

I’ve actually planned on publishing this post a long time ago but I kept postponing it because of one big problem: I don’t have a fixed amount of the ingredients; I just eyeball it. But since F has been very keen to try making it for Little B, I’m posting the recipe here with an approximation of the ingredients. Please adjust the herbs and seasoning as you go to suit your taste buds.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio


  • 1 packet spaghetti – cooked al dente
  • 10 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 cloves of garlic, crushed then chopped coarsely
  • 500 grams shrimps – heads removed, peeled, and deveined
  • a small bunch of coriander, coarsely chopped (Malay: daun ketumbar)
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • optional: chopped red chili or dried chili flakes

1. Cook spaghetti as per package instructions until al dente. You wouldn’t want them too soggy as you’ll still be cooking them in a pan.
2. In a large non-stick pan, pour the olive oil in and start sautéing the garlic until it turns fragrant. If you’re not very fond of garlic, you can reduce the number of cloves but you can’t omit the garlic altogether as it will affect the overall taste of the dish.
3. At this point, you can add in the chopped red chili, if you’re the type of person who likes it hot. It’s actually nicer with just a little bit of chili, believe me! But if you have children who are sensitive to the least bit of chili, then you better skip this step and just add dried chili flakes to your own serving later on.
4. Add in the shrimps. Mix them around until they start to turn pink. (Note: Unpeeled shrimps with their heads on would actually make the dish look more appealing…but then they’d be a pain to peel and eat.)
5. Toss in the pasta. Mix around to coat the pasta with the oil. Add more oil if it looks too dry. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. This is important: the pepper must be freshly ground. Either use a pepper grinder or bash some peppercorns with a pestle and mortar. It makes a HUGE difference in the taste as compared to ground black pepper.
6. Add in the coriander, mix around briefly, take the pan out of the flame and serve the spaghetti immediately. Optional: garnish each plate with some coriander leaves.

Try making it this weekend. Bon weekend, mes amis!

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